Ever get the perfect Christmas gift for someone? I don’t mean when you get the top item on their list that was just a little too expensive for them to count on getting, I’m talking about when you come up with an idea they didn’t even think of, you know them so well and by some inspiration you found something that has real meaning, something that is going to instantly put a smile on their face and maybe a happy tear to their eye. It’s a rare thing in life – or maybe it’s just a rare thing for me and you’re really good at the whole gift giving thing – but mentally put yourself in that moment for a second. You’ve known this was an awesome gift for a few weeks and it’s been killing you keeping it a secret. Finally they are opening it up and realizing what it is. They look up at you and can’t even say anything yet, but the way they look back at you says it all.
In that moment, how do you feel? Awesome, right? As happy as them. And not just giving gifts, but anytime you get someone to smile, any time you get someone to laugh, anytime you do something kind for someone or lift a burden, anytime you make someone’s day better or easier… how does that feel? Awesome. When you connect with another human being and give a little piece of your own life so that they can have life more and better it feels awesome. Because we were made for this. It’s written into our hearts to love, and when we do our hearts feel a light shining from within.
On the feast of the nativity, on this Christmas Eve/Day, the God of all creation is looking at our faces, looking to see if we are starting to recognize the gift that He gave to us. Our hearts resonate with joy when we love, but how could we have known that this joy is divine, that God Himself is love, if it weren’t for the birth of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation? It would be an impossible anxiety to contemplate an unknowable, abstract God in the reality of our small lives. A God who gave us free will to act and choose and create ourselves into whoever we want to be. What would this God want us to choose? What would He want us to become? And what would happen if we chose poorly? Before Jesus Christ we knew the beginning outlines of an answer, but with Jesus Christ we know what the answer is in the most human of ways. We know that Jesus healed, we know that he gave forgiveness and sought out the lost sheep, and we know that there was a narrow path he wanted us to choose for ourselves. And at the end of all things, we know that he gave his life, that he gave us not only the image of his love to look at in the crucifix, but his sacrifice itself given to us in the Eucharist. Because of Christmas, because of the Incarnation… we know God in a way that we never could have otherwise. We know the gentleness of a human face looking back at us, smiling, excited, and with love.
Giving that perfect gift? Any of those other acts of real love and connection? It’s not just awesome, it’s an imitation of divine love. It’s a moment when we have chosen to be like Him. And there is no greater joy for us or gift that we can give to another, than to be like Jesus.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.